The aging process has a mind and timetable of its own and all living things must learn to accept the changes and accommodate somehow.
I’m not sure how animals do it, but I’ve watched it happen when our 17-year-old beloved dog, Punim, lost her hearing and bladder control. Even as she grew weaker, she never complained.
We humans have many different experiences as we encounter the aging process. At first, as we exit infancy and enter childhood, it feels exciting to realize that we’re growing up. We learn to walk and talk and join the family of man. As adults, we’re either too busy to be aware of the bodily changes that signal the passage of time or we ignore them. We can cover gray hair if it bothers us. We can exercise more if we begin to feel less strong. And we can often find ways to work around the changes. I call them aging accommodations.
When we can no longer scrub floors on our hands and knees, we use a mop or steamer. When pulling weeds and cutting dead branches from trees becomes a painful process, we can do the job more slowly or hire someone younger to do it.
Hopefully there should be no shame in finding ways to accept the aging process. Adapt we must. And the journey is different for each of us. Some of us can no longer drive at night because of the limitations imposed by cataracts, so we dine out with other drivers or we elect to have surgery that will correct the problem. Some of us no longer feel comfortable climbing tall ladders to trim trees or clean ceiling fans. We find help. Others of us are resigned to no longer having an unbroken night’s sleep. When our bladders speak, we listen immediately.
We confront age with myriad possible solutions. We cream our skin to lessen wrinkles and visit the gym to maintain strength and flexibility. We choose more carefully what we eat in order to maximize good health. When memory tires we have Post-It Notes to remind us. When facial hairs embarrass us, we have razors or tweezers.
The good news is that most of us seem able to accept and work with the changes that come with the passage of time. We’re lucky to have all the choices that allow us to recognize, face, confront, work around and finally accommodate the challenges of aging.
Life demands that all living things learn to adapt and adjust. Aging has its share of pleasures as well as pains. Some discomforts may be reversible, others may not. The process of attempted accommodation is worth the price. It allows us to appreciate and relish life’s pleasures with what we have and who we truly are, regardless of change.
Freelance writer Judy Kramer can be reached by email at [email protected] She is author of the book “Changing Places: A Journey with My Parents into Their Old Age.”